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American Trails presented "Economic Impact of Livable Communities with Active Transportation Options" on October 20, 2016 as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"




"Economic Impact of Livable Communities with Active Transportation Options"

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American Trails presented this Webinar on October 20, 2016. This webinar is presented by Craig Della Penna, Owner of Northeast Greenway Solutions, Realtor (specializing in the sale of houses near rail trails and greenways), and Owner of Sugar Maple Trailside Inn in Massachusetts.

Read more and learn about the presenters...



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graphic showing $253 million in annual economic impact of the trail

Saying "Yes" to trails for active transportation


A. What kind of Active Transportation Opportunities are there?
And just what is a “Livable Community?”

Within 125 miles of the Connecticut River Valley of Western Massachusetts there are over 200 rail trail projects underway. What is being built in fragments is in essence probably the densest network of non-motorized transportation opportunities in North America.

One of the definitions of a Livable Community, is what kind of options or infrastructure exists for non-motorized transportation. Infrastructure for not only tourism, but also for biking to school, to work, or for day-to-day errands.


B: Who would be interested in a community with Active Transportation?

Millennials are the largest group of buyers in most marketplaces today in the U.S. Drivers of not only real estate in the 21st century, but how communities are built and become vibrant. They wish to live in places where biking and walking are not unusual or dangerous. Trails advocates and others attending this webinar this will learn why this fundamental shift is important, and most importantly how to help make their communities more walkable and bikeable— and thus more valuable to Millennials. It has been said many times that the indicator of life in a coal mine is the canaries. If you don’t see them there and thriving, you know it is time to get out. The same holds true for a community and or downtown area. If you don’t see walkers/bicyclists as being commonplace, then it is time to either get out, or to fix the problem.

C: In order to transform a community, you’ll need to enlist non-traditional allies.

In a previous webinar, I focused on getting Realtors on board as allies. In this webinar, I will expand on the Realtor angle, and will talk about getting civic organizations, state agencies, and other key stake-holders.


D: Just the facts ma’am. What IS the economic impact?

graphic showing $253 million in annual economic impact of the trail

Economic benifits of the Erie Canalway Trail

1. In my "day job" as Realtor, I have had extensive experience in selling houses near to rail trails and greenways in the Hampshire County area of Western Massachusetts. I have seen multiple offers situations (aka "bidding wars") for houses that sit near to rail trails. My most recent sale in this regard is closing on September 22, 2016. This is a small, 1870 era farmhouse that will be selling at $285K. The price is $16K over list price and the house sits 75 feet from the rail trail.

2. Active Transportation Infrastructure Creates More Jobs than Road Infrastructure. A recent study conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts to investigate the employment impacts of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in 11 cities in the U.S. reveals that Bicycle Infrastructure Only, Pedestrian Infrastructure Only and Off-Street Multiuse Trails create the most jobs (i.e. direct, indirect and enhanced jobs) while Road Infrastructure Only creates the least number of jobs.

3. Economic Viability Linked to Active Transportation in Washington D.C.’s Barracks Row Washington D.C.’s Barracks Row experienced a slump in commercial activity as a result of unsafe sidewalks, lack of lighting and automobile traffic. After design improvements were implemented (new sidewalks, street lighting and traffic signals), Barracks Row tripled its economic activity by attracting 44 new businesses and creating 200 jobs.



Craig Della Penna

For over fifteen years, Craig Della Penna marketed rail freight and planned the start-up and managed the operations of two of the northeast’s largest railroad owned transloading facilities. Having a background in a railroad history, he was invited by a regional publisher to write a series of books about the history of old railroad lines and their conversion to bike and hike trails. He was later hired by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as an organizer and for seven years covered the New England region. For the past thirteen years, he has been a Realtor in Massachusetts, specializing in the sale of houses near rail trails and greenways. He is the first Realtor in the U.S. with this niche and has been written about in numerous national and regional Realtor trade magazines— and even in United Airlines in-flight magazine— Hemispheres. He is one of the most in-demand speakers in the U.S. on various topics related to rail trail development with over 1,200 lectures in 20 States and Canadian provinces. He and his wife Kathleen also operate an award-winning bed & breakfast in Northampton, Massachusetts that sits eight feet from one of New England’s earliest municipally-built rail trails. Learn more about Craig’s accomplishments (pdf 874 kb)…





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